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France Celebrates Summer With All-night Music Fest; NY Swings Along

France celebrated the summer solstice in the wee small hours Friday with an all-night music festival in cities and towns that drew 10 million revellers onto the streets , while New York swung along for the first time.

In Paris, the mood and vibe changed from area to area. Thousands flocked to Abbesses on the slopes of Montmartre and danced in the narrow streets as small-time artists enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame, while locals blasted their own music from the windows above.

Further south in Chatelet and Les Halles the summer air crackled to rock rhythms, electric guitar and even the music of the Andes. Those in search of the bigger events could attend one of the many concerts specially organised for the "Fete de la Musique" -- an annual celebration of music launched in 1982.

The night sees everything from buskers to amateur bands entertain the masses in street parties, while stars take to the stage in around 18,000 free concerts, from Marseille to Metz and from Bayonne to Brest. One of France's top artists, Renaud, performed at a prison in the northern Pas-de-Calais region, one of the 150 concerts organised in detention centres across the country.

A concert in Montmartre supported calls for the release of Franco-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt, a former presidential candidate who was kidnapped in 2002 by rebels. New York on Thursday also held its very first all-day music festival, with hundreds of free concerts across the city gathered under the banner "Make Music New York". "It's amazing, they like it, it's very positive," said artist-songwriter Larry Stevens, as he entertained the lunchtime crowds munching on sandwiches in the shadow of the business district's skyscrapers.

Outside the United Nations, Dianne Carr, who had organised a concert for children, said: "It's extraordinary, it's unique. It's the first time and people are a little shocked. People love it. We have to catch up with Eu
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